Airport authority chairman says taxiway in T-SPLOST not needed
By staff on June 29, 2012
By FARAH BOHANNON, For The Paper
Jackson County Airport Authority chairman Ken Botts says he considers one of the projects on the transportation intiative referendum to be voted on July 31 a waste of taxpayer money.
The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) referendum includes a new westside taxiway at the Jackson County Airport among the Northeast Georgia Regional Transportation Roundtable projects.
The airport authority convened June 19 to discuss new business and several items on the budget. T-SPLOST was among the topics discussed by Airport Manager Greg Garner and Botts.
Botts said he doesn’t consider a westside taxiway to be a need at the airport.
“I am very much opposed to the T-SPLOST paying for the westside taxiway,” Botts said. “I really don’t agree with the Jackson County taxpayers paying for something that the airport really doesn’t need. I think it is a poor use of the taxpayers’ money. We could invest money somewhere else.”
While the westside taxiway project is on the authority’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), Botts said the project isn’t scheduled to receive attention until 2015. He said he doesn’t recall the inclusion of the project on the T-SPLOST list being discussed by the authority.
Authority members Max Allen and Stan McLain also said they did not see the need for the added taxiway when there are other projects of greater importance.
Botts raised questions about the development of the CIP which includes what he calls a list of “pie in the sky” projects such as an airport business park and new terminal. While a future terminal
had been discussed, the five-year plan projected a $26.6 million investment, of which $4.7 million would be financed by Jackson County.
Botts said he was unable to secure an answer to his question about who developed the CIP project list. Since the list was developed, much has changed at the airport including the makeup of the authority.
Botts suggests a work session later this fall for members to sit down and discuss a more realistic five-year plan for the airport. He said a plan for better and more efficient organization can be developed within the existing budget. Botts said he wants to narrow down the CIP and focus solely on projects that are necessary. He and Garner say they believe the effort will reduce the potential costs from $27 million to somewhere between $8-$10 million.
A workshop meeting will be scheduled to delve into the CIP and to collect information about each project that has merit.
The seventh Jackson County “fly-in” event is tentatively scheduled for this fall. Garner said he hopes to plan a family-friendly event that will serve as positive advertisement for the airport and possibly gain more airport users.
Garner said he believes that a contract through which users are able to purchase a minimum of 120 gallons per year and receive free tie-downs would be a boost for the airport. The goal of this contract is an incentive for people to keep aircraft at the Jackson County Airport.
“We need to change the approach of operations to increase activity and revenue,” said Botts. “The Jackson County Airport must concentrate on obtaining as many rental properties to bring in activity. This needs to be on the CIP.”
The contract is among the ideas to boost revenue and activity at the airport.
Botts also stressed the need for a sign for the Jackson County Airport to be located on the interstate. He said he hopes to have a sign in place soon.